One of the questions that has come up over the years is why the figures in my jazz series are painted in black. I want use this forum to address that question.
When I decided to produce this series more 20 years ago now, I wanted to create one in which the figures were more representational of musician rather than realistic. For me, it wasn’t a matter of portraying skin tones and ethnicity, but more about the way the colors play off of each, in much the ways musicians interact with each other. I knew I wanted to do a lot with color and design in backgrounds and I need a good foreground color for the players that allow make them stand out consistently against everything. Black is the color that does that as strongly and dramatically as I wanted for this series.
The choice for me was completely aesthetic and not social. I wanted to do what I’ve done, which is to approach each work as art first and foremost. I like and appreciate musicians of every origin. The last thing I would be interested in would be deciding what skin tone to make each player in piece. At the very least, the fact that they’re all represented in one color in my work is, in a way, symbolic of the way in which musicians meld and place creating great music above whatever difference there may be in their outer layers.
Here I’m refining a sketch for a piece I’m working on and titling “San Francisco Slide”, at the moment (because it’s going to feature at least one trombonist). I’m playing with the angle of the streets to mimic the sloping hills for which the city of San Francisco is famous.
I’ll refine it more in the production of the actual working sketch. For now, I have enough of an idea of where I’m going with it to get it done. It’s a challenging concept, but I’m pretty sure I can pull it off.
I’ll keep you posted!
These cups have been part of my painting process for almost 20 years. It started with my late grandfather buying them to drink coffee in every morning. I shared with him about how styrofoam cups end up in landfills and are bad for the environment and suggested rather than throwing them away he could give them to me. Well, he did. What I discovered in using these cups over a period of time is how incredibly good this material, which keeps coffee hot or iced tea cold was at keeping acrylic paint from drying out for an extended period time –that is, when you covered the contents with another styrofoam cup. Once enclosed, the paint life could be extended by weeks, even a month or so in some case. This can be useful when you see something you want to touch up in painting weeks after you thought you were finished with the piece.
I have dozens of these cups and they will continue to be put to use for as long as possible, but I’ve been thinking about what to with them when I can no longer used them. The idea that comes to mind is to paint them and turn them into some kind of art, but what exactly, I don’t know. Anyway, I’m thinking about it, but for now they are being rolled back into production as they were all those years ago when my grandfather gave them to me.
Spent this very rainy 40-degree Saturday morning crawling through sketches (sprawled across the bed) for pieces I’ll be working on soon.
I am really pleased to be able to let you know that my new site is up, something which was long overdue.
So what have I been up to the better the part of the last decade? Well, I’ve been working in another media – computers. I was building a demanding internet business that has allowed me to work with great people in everything from public service to, of course, music. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Designing on computer is a whole other kind of canvas and I enjoy that immensely.
I also started painting on computer over the past few years. When I first experienced working on computers in 1996, I saw its enormous opportunities to enhance the way I painted. I can’t tell you the number of times that I would think, “How great it would be to try this idea in different color schemes” or “How great it would be to paint this in on a computer?”. Alas, the technology did not exists in the form it does today. But thanks to Corel Painter and Wacom tablets, all that has changed and I really embrace this technology. I think it makes me a better artist and allows me to expand the bounds of my creativity.
I’ve also been enabled to use the technology to bring my work to new markets. For the past three years, I’ve been able offer my more of work to more people with FineArtAmerica.com, one of the top sellers of on-demand art reproductions on the web. This allows folks to buy high-quality print or canvas reproductions of my work in their choice of sizes. What this association also allows me to do is to share a portion of the proceeds with The Jazz Foundation of America which helps the musicians who make the music that inspired my work, when they are in need. JFA is an important and inspirational organization.
Speaking of work, I have some new things coming and I will use this platform from time to time to share images, video and thoughts with you about what I’m working on, and I have a lot of “new” to work on. Almost every morning, I wake up and immediately start sketching. From this process, I have a ton of new ideas, along with a stack of new canvases that I am excited to get to work on. Even during stretches when I’ve been focused on work other than painting, I never stopped creating new ideas for paintings and now it’s time to start making those pieces a reality. Stay tuned!